Top 10 Best Places to Elope in Europe

Top 10 Best Places to Elope in Europe

Are you looking to elope in Europe? Below are 10 ideal places to elope whether you’re planning a luxury or budget European elopement. You’ll find pros and cons of each location, ideal times to visit, links to official websites listing documents needed for legal marriage ceremonies, and generally what type of person each location is a best fit for.

You’ll also find below each country’s laws on foreigners getting married legally within their borders, including marriage equality laws. Each country in Europe has it’s own laws, and some are easier than others, while some require residency at a minimum. Currently, Denmark is the easiest European country to get legally married in. Italy is a popular destination, but does not recognize same sex marriages.

Here are the top 10 best places to elope in Europe!

6 General Tips for Eloping in Europe:

  1. Avoid July and August and choose a weekday.
  2. Keep it simple by doing the marriage paperwork at home and having a symbolic ceremony instead. (See: What is a symbolic ceremony?)
  3. Check your passport expiration dates (must be good for 6 months or longer when you arrive).
  4. Start planning early (6-9+ months out if it’s just you two, and 12-16 months out if you’re bringing guests).
  5. Buy travel insurance and don’t fly with budget airlines. This is a once in a lifetime day, so pay a little more for tickets than you normally would so you know you’ll be taken care of if delays or baggage problems occur.
  6. Carry your wedding attire and accessories onto the plane with you. Ask a stewardess if they have a place to store your dress. Many times they’ll be able to hang it in a safe area!
  7. Do you need an international drivers licence? Check now and get it BEFORE you leave. Most countries DO NOT let you apply for one once you’re in the country.

Best places to elope in Europe, honorable mention: Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is well known to be a hot spot for northern European tourism. The islands are incredibly diverse with a surprising amount of hiking inland. Mallorca has beaches, cliffs, and excellent hiking trails which overlook the entire island and surrounding ocean. Since most people travel to Mallorca to party, those who venture inland to the trails have a quieter experience.

Pros:

Compact and easy to travel around, beaches and mountains, tropical weather most the year. Well adjusted to tourism, so you’ll find all the amenities and accommodation you could ever want.

Cons:

Crowds and heavy tourism from the UK and Germany. Mallorca has a bit of a party reputation for folks who live in Europe. The weather in winter/spring can be chilly and wet.

Who is it for?

Eloping in Mallorca is perfect for couples who want a tropical island elopement with a little bit of mountains and trails mixed in, and options for bars and socializing. The island is heavily reliant on tourism, so you’ll find variety as far as hotels, accommodation and English speaking services. For couples eloping with guests and friends, Mallorca has lots of options for going out, partying and entertainment.

Can two foreign non-residents get legally married in Spain?

No. For two foreigners to get married in Spain, at least one of them must have a fixed address (residency) in the country. Furthermore, marriage paperwork can take up to 45 days, so if you are eligible, begin the paperwork very early. US citizens can read more here.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Spain?

Yes.


10. Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia (just off the coast of mainland Italy in the Mediterranean sea) is one of the most charming places in the world. It’s no surprise this is a blue zone area, where people tend to live the longest, healthiest and happiest lives on Earth. It is every bit as dreamy as coastal Italy, with the immaculate white sand beaches and coastlines of Greece.

Pros:

Best white sand beaches in Europe. Unlike Sicily or mainland Italy, Sardinia is also small, so seeing the whole island during your elopement/honeymoon is very manageable. You can easily explore the entire island in a few days.

Cons:

Crowds. Summer can be very busy as many Europeans vacation here. July and August can also get uncomfortably hot. Same sex marriages are not recognized in Italy.

Who is it for?

Sardinia is for people who want a tropical and warm elopement that has a mix of Mediterranean culture with laid back island vibes and flawless sandy beaches.

Can two foreign non-residents get legally married in Sardinia?

Yes. There is no residency requirement to get married in Sardinia, Italy. You will need to gather a number of documents, however. Use this resource here to figure out what you need based on nationality.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Sardinia?

No. Only civil unions are recognized between partners of the same sex.


9. The Azores, Portugal

The Azores are a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic. They are wild, remote, diverse and lesser known than the other island destination of Europe. They are also further west than Iceland, making it the closest European destination to the US. It is fair to consider the Azores the Hawaii of Europe, although you won’t find many luxury resorts or spas.

Pros:

Proximity to north America makes it one of the shortest flights to “Europe.” More remote and less crowded. Affordable. Extremely diverse landscape and microclimates. There are “calderas,” waterfalls, tropical forests, fruit trees everywhere, and rocky, arid mountain peaks at higher altitudes. Everyone speaks English.

Cons:

Not for luxury travelers. There is very much an undeveloped island vibe here, so don’t expect 5 star dining or luxury spas. Getting around the island can be slow.

Who is it for?

More introverted, adventurous types who are willing to sacrifice luxury amenities and accommodation for privacy, adventure and going off the beaten path a bit more. There are multiple islands, each with its own flavor to offer, and a mix of climates and landscapes that will keep you guessing. The Azores are a truly surreal place and a rare hidden gem that is yet to be developed or spoiled by over tourism.

Can two non residents get legally married in the Azores?

In theory, yes, it is part of Portugal, which has no legal residency requirement. However, due to the remoteness of the location, the logistics may be complicated and the ceremony can only be done in Portuguese.

Are same sex marriages recognized in the Azores?

Yes.


8. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is a remarkably beautiful city. It’s clean with hypnotizing architecture and tile mosaics everywhere you look. The food is incredible, and the beaches outside the city are world class spots to enjoy a sunset and watch the surfers. There are old fortresses, castles and cathedrals to be explored, and an abundance of sun and smiles. It is a hotspot for art, food, dance, culture and history.

Pros:

The entire city is a postcard drenched in sunshine. It’s walkable, and most places can be accessed by their famous trolly system. It’s a historical city with a ton to experience, and the Alfama district is a fascinating labyrinth of shops, buildings and alleyways to get lost in. Compared to many European cities, it is also more on the affordable side. I would 100% recommend Lisbon over more known European cities like Paris, Barcelona or Rome.

Cons:

There aren’t many if an urban elopement is for you! It’s an ideal mix of city, sun and culture, with fewer crowds and costs that other large cities.

Who is it for?

Couples wanting a classically warm and inviting elopement in an urban European setting, close to beaches, historical locations and coastal nature areas. Lisbon is ideal for the foodie and the urban explorer. The landscape is comparable to the coast of southern California, but with the perks of European culture. You can get lost in the city and find a new wonder around every corner, even without spending a dime. Here are some of the best wonders Lisbon has to offer.

Can tourists get legally married in Portugal?

Yes. Read more about what documents are needed here.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Portugal?

Yes.


7. Almalfi Coast, Italy

Eloping in the Almalfi coast feels a bit like having your wedding in a Gucci ad. The colorful houses packed along the sheer ocean cliffs make the whole area feel as if it were weightless. It’s iconically Italian. Indulge in 5 star dining or rent a vespa and putt along the winding roads and cobbled streets to your heart’s content. Hiring out a private sailboat to tour the cliffs from the water is a luxe and thrilling option.

Pros:

The scenery, mood and architecture is unbeatable. Warm year round. Coastal, luxurious and iconic.

Cons:

Crowds, costs, chaos. Tourism here can clog the roadways and make booking difficult. It can be expensive as well, and cruises are known to dump thousands of passengers off in swarms. Same sex marriages are not recognized in Italy.

Who is it for?

For anyone wanting a classic Italian style experience, you can’t beat the Almalfi coast. It’s iconic buildings and southern European architecture set the mood for an unforgettably romantic elopement year round. You’ll need to be comfortable with crowds, as it is a popular area especially in summer, and tends to cater to more luxury and upscale tourism.

Can tourists get legally married in Italy?

Yes. There is no residency requirement to get married in Italy. You will need to gather a number of documents, however. Use this resource here to figure out what you need based on nationality.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Italy?

No. Only civil unions are recognized in Italy for partners of the same sex (*HEAVY sarcasm* you can thank the Vatican later…).


6. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Scotland has beautiful rocky green hills and crags, a moody and romantic atmosphere, and English speaking natives. A huge plus for many is its Scotch Whisky culture and all the many world famous distilleries you can visit. It is to whisky lovers what Italy or France are to wine lovers. The Isle of Skye is especially rugged and windblown and wild; the green vastness stretches over the horizon, and is a charming place to get lost in. Combined with the friendly and helpful locals, it’s the perfect balance of remote and welcoming.

Pros:

Beautiful, rugged landscape. Scotch. Friendly, helpful locals.

Cons:

Rainy, windy and cool weather are almost unavoidable.

Who is it for?

Those who prefer eloping in moodier, overcast conditions, rather than sunny and warm areas. It also has the benefit of being an English speaking country, so there will be no language barriers regarding planning or booking. It’s a very comfortable choice for reserved, introverted types who gravitate toward cool elegance and privacy.

Can two foreign non-residents get legally married in Scotland?

Yes! There are no residency requirements to fill out legal marriage paperwork in Scotland. You can read more about this here.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Scotland?

Yes.


5. Lofoten Islands, Norway

All of Norway is great for eloping (click here for alternative locations in southern Norway), but the Lofoten islands in the north are truly magnificent. In June and July, the midnight sun means you don’t have to stop exploring when the sun goes down…because it doesn’t. If endless daylight isn’t your thing, then try going in the winter and chasing the northern lights instead!

Pros:

Midnight sun in summer, northern lights in winter. Best views in the world no matter the season. If you’re skin is thick enough to brave the winter chill, you may have a shot at eloping under the northern lights, but don’t plan your trip around it. It’s fleeting and takes a very skilled photographer to capture.

Cons:

Weather is unpredictable and summer is extremely short and crowded. Norway is very expensive. The food, dining and entertainment scene is not great. Rugged and remote.

Who is it for?

The Lofoten islands are perfect for those who want a remote, rugged and isolated feel. It’s comparable to Alaska, Patagonia, or British Columbia in terms of views and remoteness. The area can be toured by private boat charter, helicopter or by hiking and has some of the best (and most challenging) trails in Europe.

Can two foreign non-residents get legally married in Norway?

Yes, but it requires a bit of paperwork. In order to get legally married in Norway, you must prove that you have a “legal stay.” For more on this, visit here for counts as a legal stay and here for the specific paperwork required.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Noway?

Yes.


4. The Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are comparable in landscape to perhaps Scotland and parts of Iceland. They are green, vast, untouched and offer a more laid back and “island” type atmosphere. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and you’re less likely to be surrounded by tourists than in other locations. Consider that is because the Faroe archipelago is much harder to get to.

Pros:

Remote and beautiful, with friendly locals.

Cons:

The Faroes are somewhat similar, but a bit more difficult to get to and navigate due to its rural infrastructure.

Who is it for?

The Faroe Islands are for couples eloping alone who want cooler, more dramatic scenery that is anything but tropical. It’s a location that’s not for travelers on a budget, however. Expect to pay premiums for car rentals, hotels, food and vendors like photographers and florists etc.

Can two foreign non-residents get legally married in the Faroe Islands?

Yes, and it’s quite easy compared to other EU countries! It’s very similar to the process in Denmark, as the islands are a self-governing province of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed on the Faroe Islands?

Yes.


3. Iceland

Iceland speaks for itself: glaciers, lava, black sand beaches, waterfalls, geysers and hot springs…the land of ice and fire is unlike anything in the world – and expensive. Very expensive. Third most expensive country in the world, expensive. The climate is cool and mild all year round, with quite brutal winters. The small country welcomes millions of tourists a year, so while it’s a prime destination, you will likely have an audience wherever you go.

Pros:

World class, unbeatable scenery and views with or without extreme hiking. Everyone speaks fluent English.

Cons:

Iceland is PRICEY. Weather can be dramatic, unpredictable and is cool and wet most the year. The summer is very short and very busy. Crowds.

Who is it for?

Iceland is for couples who want insane, wanderlust views that can be easily accessed if needed. Iceland’s most famous locations are VERY busy, so you’ll need to be somewhat comfortable with crowds. If you’re willing to hike a bit, you can find some privacy, however. Iceland is, above all, not ideal for a budget elopement.

Can two foreign non-residents get legally married in Iceland?

Yes.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Iceland?

Yes.

2. The Swiss, Austrian & Slovenian Alps

You are spoiled for options in the European Alps. From the jagged peaks of Switzerland to the rolling green hills of eastern Austria, to Slovenia’s monolithic white stone cliffs and canyons, everywhere you go is packed with views, culture, history and adventure. The best part of eloping in the Alps is the historical significance of the area. Agriculture, language and heritage go back thousands of years, so unlike other locations like Norway or Iceland which are more recently developed, the Alps offer a lot of cultural experiences. The infrastructure is well established, and the land is more developed, so you’ll be able to reach most major peaks by cable car. Jump on a train and explore another country in a matter of hours!

Don’t overlook Slovenia as a prime option. Ljubljana is a beautiful city, and the mountains along the Slovenian/Italian border are some of the most underrated areas of the Alps. Slovenia is truly a hidden gem. Just look at this Slovenian elopement to see what I mean.

Pros:

Established and well developed. Cable cars operate to many peaks, some year round. Rich in culture and history. World class ski culture in winter. World class hiking in summer.

Cons:

It can be difficult to find trails and areas which aren’t extremely packed with tourists year round, but especially in the summer.

Who is it for?

This is the all around winner for those wanting a little bit of everything. Whether eloping alone or with family, you and your guests will be well accommodated by the infrastructure in these areas. The Alps are centrally located in Europe, so you can extend your trip to other countries by car or train very easily. The Alps offer the most options and variety for mountain elopements in Europe no matter what you’re interested in, no matter your budget.

Can tourists get legally married in these countries?

Austria – yes, take a look at the required documents here.

Switzerland – yes, here’s everything you need to know!

Slovenia – yes, here is what you need.

Which countries recognize and perform same sex marriages?

Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia all recognize same sex marriages!


1. The Italian Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites are the best of the best within the Alps. Many of the most impressive and iconic lakes, peaks and trails are all located here, making it arguably the best place to elope in Europe. There are numerous mountain “refugios” and luxury hotels and Airbnbs to stay in. The amount of cable cars in the area means many iconic areas can be accessed without hiking, and due to its popularity, there are lots of vendors ready to help you out and most speak English.

Pros:

Views and accessibility. Lots of options for hotels and amenities.

Cons:

Crowds and over-tourism. The area is extremely popular. Many high alpine trails and refugios are only open from mid-June to late September. Same sex marriages are not recognized in Italy.

Who is it for?

The Italian Dolomites are perfect for a variety of couples. Whether you want to elope just the two of you, or with family, you have options. It is ideal for those seeking rugged, mountainous views that are accessible and maintained. The Dolomites are also located in central Europe, so travel in, out and around the area is very easy. You are only a short few hours drive from coastal Italy, or Germany, Switzerland, France and Austria. This is a great location to start a big Euro trip honeymoon.

Can two foreign non-residents get legally married in Italy?

Yes. There is no residency requirement to get married in Italy. You will need to gather a number of documents, however. Use this resource here to figure out what you need based on nationality.

Are same sex marriages recognized and performed in Italy?

No. Only civil unions are recognized in Italy for partners of the same sex.


Summary:

There are many great options when considering the best places to elope in Europe. Mostly, it comes down to what sort of experience you’re looking for, so if you aren’t sure yet, sit down with your partner and have a deep discussion about what your dream destination looks and feels like.

Once you choose a location, figure out the best time of year to go for the climate and crowds you prefer and start planning early!



Ready to Start Planning your Elopement in Europe? Start by asking about elopement packages for each European location above!

Eloping in Europe, far away from home, is challenging. It’s probably likely that no one you know has done something similar, and the logistics and planning can feel overwhelming.

But don’t stress, I’m here to help!

Figuring out exactly where to go in Europe based on your personalities, budgets and needs is easier when you know where to look. Hiring an experienced photographer is crucial.

So if you find this article helpful, then let’s talk! Now that you know your main options, I’d love to help you plan the most amazing European elopement ever.

CONTACT ME

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